A Review of the Novel ‘Scarlet Song’ by Marima Ba

The novel, Scarlet Song, by Marima Ba, is centred on the theme of love, and focuses on the lives of two young people; Ousmane Gueye (a Senegalese) and Mireille (daughter of a French diplomat). The two youngsters come from totally different backgrounds but are bound together by the bond of love.

At the beginning of the novel, the reader is introduced to Ousmane Gueye, of whom the writer gives a description of the kind of environment he had been brought up in- a humble background.

The novel is divided into three main parts, each of which is further divided into several smaller parts. Each main part of the novel presents a major milestone for the couple’s relationship. Ousmane Gueye is from a humble Muslim family and has overcome numerous challenges to acquire education. Mireille, on the other hand is from an affluent home, and literary had everything she desired materially, while growing up. Neither the difference in their worlds, nor the animosity arising from both families towards each other, succeeds in drawing them apart.

After a separation that lasted for a number of years, the two got married and settled down in Senegal. The novel, however, ends on a sad note, as Ousmane has an affair with Ouleymatou (a childhood friend). On discovering the double standard life Ousmane is leading, Mireille becomes mentally unstable and kills their young child. She also goes on and stabs Ousmane several times. The story ends with her deportation to France.

The novel has various settings, among which, the major ones include; Rural African setting, Institution of Higher Learning and Urban environments. Each of the different settings is of significance in the development of the novels’ plot.

There are a number of characters in the novel, among which the major ones are; Ousmane Gueye and Mireille. Other characters in the novel include; Yaye Khady (Ousmane’s mother), Djibril Gueye (Ousmane’s father), Ouleymatou (Ousmane’s childhood friend and later on, wife), and Mireille’s father and mother.

The writer adopts an Omniscient narrator’s voice throughout the novel. This enables the reader to have an all round view of the events that take place in the novel.

The author’s use of language has also enabled her to give the novel an authentic African taste. There are a number of words in the novel, which are written in Arabic, which is a further attempt at reflecting the culture of the community in focus.

Apart from the theme of love, which is the major theme in the novel, other themes focused on by the writer include; racial animosity, traditions versus modernity, Education and Betrayal.

The author has been successful in her efforts of informing the reader about the predicament facing different classes of individuals within her society, while at the same time ensuring that the reader remains captivated throughout the novel.

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